For all its ups and downs, 2020 has encouraged more of us to get proactive with health and wellbeing and at the same time, has helped more of us understand the importance of our gut bacteria.
Because the gut itself is a complex and far-reaching system, we might tend to think that supporting the health of the gut is equally complicated; but it doesn’t need to be!
With our New Year’s Resolutions, it’s all about simple everyday changes rather than overhauls. Our actions turn into habits, which become our behaviours – and behaviour is what makes a real difference!
Through the new year, many of us will be looking to create new everyday habits that give our good gut bacteria the support and nourishment it needs; it can be as simple as paying closer attention to diet.
Put diet diversity first!
Of course, what we eat and fuel the gut bacteria with can make a big difference! Certain nutrients allow different types of bacteria to thrive – and a rich, diverse diet is the most direct way to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome. Plant based foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts & seeds are a fantastic place to start, often rich in vitamins and minerals.
Berries, dark chocolate and nuts are great examples – they contain Polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidants as well as providing nourishment for good gut bugs.
Why not use the New Year springboard to increase the diversity of your diet? It can even be a way to engage kids in the importance of balanced food choices. A rainbow chart for the week can help; can you tick off a red, orange, yellow, green and purple food each day?
Try a fibre boost – with a keen eye on prebiotics
For the New Year, it’s time to take a fresh look at fibre!
On the surface we may just think it’s a substance that the body can’t digest, found in starchy carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Yet fibre is more diverse and valuable than that! It has an impressively wide range of functions and uses within the body and can be found in many foods that we perhaps might not expect.
Prebiotics are a specific type of fibre that feed good bacteria in the gut. As we look to give our gut the support it needs, why not try to include more in your diet? Foods that contain prebiotic fibre include onions, shallots, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, as well as a variety of grains and pulses.
For some people, it can be tricky to increase the intake of prebiotic fibre through dietary changes alone, which is just one occasion where a prebiotic supplement such as Bimuno® may be recommended. Click here to learn more about Bimuno range of prebiotic supplements.
Fabulous fermented foods
A look around your local supermarket will reveal just how popular fermented food and drink products are becoming! Fermented foods contain probiotics, the live bacteria that keep our gut microbiome balanced and performing.
For the new year, why not try adding some more variety to your plate in the form of fermented food and drink? Kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and sourdough are great options!
Consider the link between the gut and brain
For the new year, discover the complex relationship known as the gut-brain axis! Heightened stress and anxiety can result in high levels of stress hormone cortisol, which can have a negative influence on the gut’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, as well as its ability to support the immune function. Prolonged or acute stress can sometimes cause muscle spasm in the gut wall, leading to bloating and discomfort.
Make your gut the focus of your New Year’s Resolution! Take a few deep breaths before you eat, to allow a ‘rest and digest’ state – and a relaxed gut! Chew properly to help the gut bacteria get to work effectively, and practice mindful eating by giving the food your full attention.
Click here to learn more about the gut-brain axis.
Sleep more soundly!
It’s no secret that our lives are getting busier and more compact – we want to do more in less time! Often, our sleep is one of the first areas to suffer, but this can be a big mistake!
Poor sleep habits can impact important areas of cognition, including out memory, concentration and appetite. In fact, getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night can sometimes translate to consuming 200-300 extra calories per day as our bodies look to recover energy!
For the new year, decide you’re going to improve your sleep and stick with it! A healthy sleep cycle is essential for many different areas of the body. Help set your body clock by getting natural light on your face in the morning and sleeping at the same – or similar – time each night.
Turn behaviour into habits
A New Year’s Resolution is of limited use if it can’t be maintained, which is why it’s usually more effective to make smaller changes to our lifestyles and behaviours. Make 2021 the ‘Year of the Gut’ and give the trillions of gut bacteria the support they need to flourish.
After all, small changes can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing! We are more likely to succeed by starting with one single goal at a time. This makes it easier to focus and remember our long-term aim!
For the new year, it’s time to put the gut back into focus. As we continue to discover the important role of the gut microbiome in our physical health and wellbeing, there has never been a better time to put your good gut bacteria into the spotlight!
Click here to learn more about the role of gut bacteria.
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